FAQ on New Jersey’s requirement for all nursing home workers to be tested for COVID-19

May 26, 2020

Who needs to be tested?

All staff who work in nursing homes must be tested, except for people who already tested positive for COVID-19.

What if I already had COVID-19?

If you tested positive for the virus in the past, you do NOT need to take another test. You may need to provide proof from your doctor showing that you had the virus.

When do I need to be tested by?

The State has ordered that facilities need to submit their plans for testing all employees by May 19, and that workers should receive their first test no later than May 30. People who test negative must be re-tested within 3-7 days. This means that you will need to receive two tests, unless you tested positive the first time.

What if I already took a test?

With this first round of testing, if you already took a test after May 1 and were negative for the virus, that will count as your baseline test, but you will still need to be tested once more. If you already tested negative TWICE since May 1, you will not need to take another test. Testing that happened before May 1 does not count.

What if I work at multiple facilities?

Testing done at one facility will count at the other facility, IF the results are made available to the second facility within 72 hours after testing unless the results are still pending. This may require an authorization of release of testing results to the other facility.

Does antibody testing count?

No, antibody testing doesn’t count—the test must be to see if you are currently infected by the virus.

Where will testing happen?

The state is recommending that testing happens on site. It is the Union’s position that testing should be done at the facility and during your work time (on the clock).

Some employers may be telling workers to visit off-site testing locations. We do not think this is right because it is an inconvenience for you, you should not be burdened with traveling around unnecessarily and potentially exposing yourself to the virus, and you should be paid for the time spent getting your test. If your employer tells you that you need to go somewhere to get tested, please notify the Union.

Who pays for the test?

Workers should not be responsible in any way for covering the cost of the tests. The Employer should make those arrangements. If anyone asks you to pay, notify the Union immediately.

My employer says I can’t get a test if I don’t have health insurance. What should I do?

Notify the Union right away. Your employer should make arrangements for free testing for all employees, whether they have insurance or not.

What type of test will I receive?

The test can be either a swab test or a saliva test.

Who can administer the test?

The test must be conducted by a licensed healthcare provider, licensed pharmacist, or trained personnel at a healthcare facility, or at a medically-supervised COVID-19 testing site in New Jersey.

What happens if I test positive?

If you test positive for COVID-19, you should speak to your personal doctor about next steps. You should notify the Union and your employer. Because you will have to take time off work to recover, you should file for unemployment benefits. For more information, read our FAQ on time off benefits.

What if I refuse to take a test?

If you refuse to take the test, you will not legally be allowed to work. The Union encourages all members to take a test for your own safety and the safety of your co-workers and residents.